For any avid consumer of hip-hop music, the timeless question of how to judge rapping skills is often brought up. Just as sports fans argue over who are the best players, rap fans argue over who is the best rapper. Instead of comparing touchdowns or homeruns, songs and verses are compared. The two major ways of judging someone's rapping ability are the free style rap and the written rap. Although mainstream, or written, rap does not lend much airtime to true free styling, mainstream rappers are finding a way to combine free styling with written rap.
There is an unwritten rule that all true rappers must possess the ability to freestyle with comfort. The basic concept of free styling is to rap and make up the lyrics as you go along. A free styled rhyme is usually one verse long, or about one minute. A lot of rappers who are famous don't freestyle and are open about it. Since most rappers are driven by selling records and making money, they don't see any value in free styling. When a rapper releases a record commercially, they don't put freestyles on their record, they only release pre-written lyrics. So, most rappers see free styling as a waste of time and money. This theory of free styling being a waste most often comes from rappers who are signed to a record contract. The main reason free styling is seen by its fans as the truest way to prove your rap worth is because it's difficult.
Writing a great rap can be just as difficult but equally important in gaining credibility as a rapper. When a rapper writes a song, they have no excuse for a bad product since they have plenty of time to prepare it. In rap terms, a bar is two lines that rhyme ...
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... that freestyling is still carrying weight in rap culture. Although the freestyles they release aren't what they say they are that label "freestyle" is important. But not as important as the written material they release on an album. Album sales are what keep rappers famous and record labels happy. Since the freestyles aren't real this means the rapper can't freestyle that well but wishes they could. They are trying to find a way to blend the two forms of rapping into one.
Thanks to the mainstream, the term freestyle has now become integrated with writing rhymes. When I hear that a rapper is free styling, I am skeptical to believe they are really free styling; especially if they are famous. Free styling is now a way to show off writing skills through 16 memorized bars instead of quick thinking: but rappers still want to say they are free styling.
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